Both the Triton Hawks girls and boys basketball teams came away with wins over county and conference rival Western Harnett on Friday, and remained undefeated in league play.
The boys game was not only for bragging rights but also for the outright Two Rivers 3A Conference lead. The Hawks remained unbeaten in the conference with a thrilling come-from-behind 70-68 overtime win.
Triton’s girls had an easier time.
Although the Eagles kept it close for the first half and more, the Hawks pulled away for a 48-26 victory.
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Junior forward Terry Cooney sank the winning free throws with 3 seconds left in overtime to improve the Hawks record to 5-0 in the Two Rivers and 10-9 overall.
Triton trailed throughout most of the game, but rallied in the fourth quarter. Chrishaun Henry’s made free throw knotted the game at 62-62 to force the extra frame.
Junior Shiquan Cox led the Hawks with 19 points.
Hawks head coach T.J. Morrison said Triton has been picking up the defensive pressure as of late, which has helped them turn around their season after a slow start. The Hawks were without some key players at the beginning of the year, when football was still going on, but once they returned things started to look up, evidenced by an overtime win over 4A Fuquay-Varina before Christmas.
Triton had been cruising once conference play started, winning their first four by double digits. Still, both Morrison and Cooney believe a close game like this one would prove beneficial for the Hawks in the long run.
The Eagles (7-7, 3-1) defeated Triton in the county’s Tip-Off Tournament early in the season, but Western Harnett coach Seth Womble acknowledged the Hawks were shorthanded that day.
“Last year we lost to them by 40, and tonight by two in overtime,” Womble said. “That is a well-coached ball club, and though we handled their press to start with, down the stretch we didn’t execute as well.”
Jamar Butler (20 points) and Davin Hamm (18) led Western. The Eagles will host the Hawks on the last night of the regular season, Feb. 10, in what could decide the regular season title.
Triton seniors Mackenzie Fenn and Annie Tyndall realized something before conference play started.
The two guards, who are friends off the court, were concerned about the slower start to their final season, and decided that they needed to turn things up a notch to help the Hawks (10-9, 5-0) succeed.
“I think we just finally realized this is our senior year and we need to go out with a bang,” said Fenn, who scored eight points and dished out four assists, mostly to Tyndall (15 points). “We’re close off the court and I think this really helps us connect in those clutch moments on the court.”
Triton coach Keith Howard agreed and also saw another reason for his team’s resurgence.
“We’ve cut back on our turnovers and are starting games and finishing quarters better,” Howard said. “Overall though I just think our confidence has improved.”
Western coach Deanna Hardee said the Eagles (1-13, 0-4) are improving every game, and playing with a lot of heart. Their lone win came against Lee County, but Hardee said the most recent scores have gotten closer.
Friday was the first game for sophomore Taija Pruitt, and she was impressive in her debut, leading the Eagles with 17 points.